The Main Tool Bar in 3DS MAX is a giant mixed funbag of stuff. It runs across the top of the screen, and is usually visible, unless you use the visual interface icons on the tabs at the top of the screen – using them will cause the Main Menu to sometimes be unavailable.

Make sure the menu shown above is visible, create a Teapot, and try out the various tools as follows:

The buttons shown here occur at the left side of the Main Toolbar. These are the most often used features in the program, except perhaps for the view port navigation controls discussed previously. The first two gadgets are "undo" and "redo".

The Next two gadgets are "Parent" and "UnParent" (or in MAX-specific terminology "Link" and "Unlink"). These are pretty important features, so they plainly belong in the main menu area.

The next gadget is "bind to spacewarp", which is not used so often – spacewaarps are used to create various special effects (next term).

The Next Five buttons / and the Drop Down list labeled "All" are selection –related.

Selections? Selecting things is a very important feature in 3D environments. In order to control and manipulate the elements of a 3D world, each element can be selected and adjusted in many different ways, without affecting the other elements in the 3D world.

3DS MAX is an object – level editing tool first and foremeost; that is, it deals with objects (as opposed to dealing with, say, polygons first and foremost). This means that when the user wants to animate, he / she can easily select the element to be animated. As a result, modeling in 3DS MAX (which requires point or polygon manipulation) is a few clicks away. (Compare this to Lightwave 3D’s Layout, which is essentially an Object – Level editor only, and Lightwave 3D’s Modeler, which is a Point / Polygon / Patch editor only).


The arrow button and dotted box tools are less often used. Next to it is a drop down

Marked "All" which allows the user to "filter" what types of elements can be selected. It is very useful in a complex scene. The button next to it (the "list with a pointer" icon) allows you to select any element by name (remember the "name your object" field from the previous handout? Here’s where we start to wish our object wasn’t called "ball146").

Finally, the three most important buttons of all…

Move, Rotate, and Scale

These three buttons are very important. Practice using them to Move, Rotate, and Scale a teapot or two… Note that the "Scale" button has a little tiny tab in its corner – this means that there are other types of scale – essentially, any 3D tool will offer more than one type of scale, and the types available are, at minimum:

  1. "uniform scale" (the default here), which essentially sizes an object up or down.
  2. "non-uniform scale" which allows an object to be scaled different amounts along different axes.

In some cases, it is also possible to scale with "Falloff" – but more on that another time…

At the extreme other end of the Main Toolbar (the right hand end) are several very important gadgets. Three of them look like teapots – these are the render controls. The one with the Blue window offers "Render Settings", the next is "Render", and the one with the curving arrow is "Render the same thing I rendered last time I did a render".

The Drop down labeled "View" allows you to limit or control what gets rendered ( a seldom used feature, but handy when you need it).

Another very important feature is found in that part of the menu… the "Material Editor".

The Material Editor is a complex and powerful texturing environment Lightwave users will find it similar to the Surface Editor. We’ll look at materials in a later class, but it is worthwhile to take note of this button for future reference.

There are still a lot of buttons left in the main toolbar (as shown above), which do a variety of things, some of which are very important (such as grouping). We’ll look at them another time.